Problems anticipated, solved as district begins work on capital improvement project

Jared Fierman, Contributing Writer

New athletic fields are under construction at Monroe-Woodbury and construction is expected to impact graduation, sports practices and competitions until at least the fall. 1,732 votes approved the $8.4 million capital improvement project on October 23, 2018.

In addition to the fields, a new air conditioning system will also be installed over the summer.

Construction affects the track, football, softball/baseball and soccer/lacrosse fields by “striping and resizing to new multi-purpose turf,” according to the Monroe-Woodbury School District website.  

Field construction was necessary for the sporting teams due to constant cancellation from weather and unusable fields because of overuse by the athletes and community members.

According to Ms. Hock, replacing the fields will help to “reflect the school’s athletic achievements and greatness [and] allow the community to participate in sporting activities more often in the future.”

The turf that will replace the grass field is meant to prevent weather damages and increase usability by sporting teams. Turf will ​decrease maintenance expenses due to the higher cost of maintaining grass fields for team and community use, as well as field drainage issues and allows increased ability for home competitions for all teams.

Student-athletes cannot use the fields during construction and are unable to compete in home sporting events and practices both during and after school, and are instead traveling to neighboring school districts.

Construction will lead to the “relocation and upgrade of the softball field with the addition of new energy-efficient light systems,” according to the Monroe-Woodbury website.

The new track will replace the six older lanes, which the district said are deteriorating, and replace them with an eight lane track, steeplechase and jumping event facility. The present concession stands will be demolished and rebuilt on new fields.

Sporting teams were “prepared for change and know beneficial aspects of construction over the long term,” said District Athletic Director Ms. Hock.  

The coaches pre-planned for spring events and switched home games to away games on May 10.

Teams were provided for by neighboring school districts for field usage. Baseball and softball players moved to Frozen Ropes and Chester, while track athletes went to nearby school districts, including Suffern, Goshen, and Cornwall.

Football teams moved from the track to between Nininger Road and the junior varsity baseball team. Summer tryouts, August 19, are moved to the middle school and fall schedules will be returned after construction finishes.

“Seniors will not have a chance to use the field before graduation, but instead will be invited back for the grand opening in the fall,” says Ms. Hock.

Field construction also caused the movement of the 2019 senior graduation ceremony to the parking lot of Monroe-Woodbury High School.

A new HVAC unit will be added to the roof of the high school, “​resulting in cost savings and more uniform and consistent temperature and humidity levels at the high school,” said the Monroe-Woodbury website.

The present High School HVAC system caused “temperature inconsistencies throughout the building” said Principal Kaste, and according to the Building Condition Survey and Board of Education Facilities Committee, the cooling unit was in “dire need of replacement.”

This means that during the summer, anyone using the high school will not have air conditioning, and there will be no way to control the inside temperature.

Both Mr. Kaste and Ms. Hock agree that construction will greatly impact school activities, staff, and students, as well as the environment over the next months, but both expressed the sentiment that long term benefits will outweigh the present inconveniences.